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A record number of Alabama children have COVID-19

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The Alabama Department of Public Health reports seventy one of the Alabama’s latest patients with COVID-19 are children. The state’s latest headcount of coronavirus cases is over nine thousand. The new numbers come out as the state's largest public school district prepared to switch to virtual classes because so many staffers are out. Among children ages 5 to 11, just over 10% have had even one shot of vaccine. The number goes to just over 35% for young people between 12 and 17.

With the virus spreading quickly, Mobile County's school system, the largest in the state says that it will switch to virtual classes Monday because so many staffers have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 it's difficult to keep buildings open. The district, with more than 53,000 students and 7,200 employees in the state's southwest corner, joins more than 30 other systems statewide that have opted for online learning since classes resumed because of a surge in illness as the highly contagious omicron variant spread quickly.

Roughly a quarter of the state's public school students, or more than 200,000 children, have shifted to online classes since 2022 began. Still, al.com reports only a handful of the largest systems require face masks. The state Health Department recommends everyone wear a mask at school.

More than 16,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported this week in Alabama schools, including more than 600 in Mobile County schools, among the highest in the state, according to data compiled by the state education and health agencies.

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